Not your father’s campaign

Posted on 12 Jul 2007 at 2:33pm
By Lisa Keen Contributing Writer

YouTube is changing the face of American political campaigns

You may be among the more than 2 million people who have tuned into YouTube to watch the now infamous “Obamagirl” tribute to presidential candidate Barack Obama.

But you’re probably not among the 1,200 to have watched the drag king rap of Obama saying, “I’m down with the dykes, the straights, and the gays.” Or the 4,400 who have viewed the video of “Nitt Rommey” whose “plan for America” consists of “No homos”?

This is not your father’s presidential campaign. This is 2007, and the ease with which anyone can now create and upload a video onto the World Wide Web, enabling hundreds of people to get an audience for their views on the presidential candidates. And many are using YouTube, the most popular venue for such videos, to highlight candidates’ views on gays.

Finding those videos takes just a little work and many hours of YouTube surfing, and the rewards can be both hilarious and entertaining or downright frightening.

Republican Rudy Giuliani’s famous drag spoofs are, of course, ever-present on YouTube. But the drag king video (youtube.com/watch ?v=PmdNX7-hD0s) is, like most of the video fare: a low budget but highly creative take off on Vanilla Ice’s “Ice, Ice, Baby,” but the Obama character sings, “I’m nice, nice, baby.” It appears to come from a small theatre troupe in New Hampshire. A one-man theatre troupe in Seattle, 24-year-old Kevin Awesome, plays both “Nitt Rommey” and several reporters at a press conference (youtube.com/watch?v=RT OwgU6WYak).

A “Hott4Hill” video posted just last week (youtube.com/watch?v=-Sudw4ghVe8) has gotten 83,000 hits already. The twist is that a 21-year-old female model sings about being “hot” for Hillary. Two “good ole boys” from Murfreesboro, Tenn., appear to be a bit hostile to gay civil rights in their “Red State Update” suggesting a question for YouTube’s July 23 Democratic candidates’ forum (youtube.com /watch?v= pFhqsdkXkRI).

Not all the gay-related presidential campaign videos are entertainment-oriented or spoofs. Some, though at times slow and dull, contain historic clips of the candidates speaking about gay issues before they became presidential candidates.
For instance, “The Presidential Candidates On Gay And Lesbian Rights” shows Illinois State Sen. Barack Obama running for the U.S. Senate being interviewed on C-SPAN in 2004, saying, “What I believe, in my faith, is that a man and a woman, when they get married, are performing something before God and it’s not simply the two persons who are meeting.”

“We have a set of traditions in place,” he says, “that need to be preserved.”

The tradition of presidential campaign, however, will never be the same.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, July 13, 2007.

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